Letter: Error at year zero

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Purcell invites us to mark the 2,000th First of August, counting from the year 8BC, when the month of Sextilis was renamed in honour of the emperor Augustus (letter, 1 August). In arithmetic, 8 plus 1,992 makes 2,000, but in chronology it doesn't because there is no year '0'.

It is easier to see this with smaller numbers: the 10th anniversary of 1 August 8BC falls on 1 August AD3 (7,6,5,4,3,2,1BC + AD1,2,3), not AD2 (7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0,1,2). Therefore, 1992 is the 1,999th anniversary of this event, but at least Mr Purcell has alerted us in good time to prepare for the observance of the 2,000th anniversary a year from now.

Yours faithfully,


Professor of Latin

University of Bristol


1 August